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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter


A Weekly Summary of Events and Topics of Interest to Online Genealogists

Vol. 7 No. 44 – November 4, 2002

Search past issues of this newsletter at:

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Copyright© 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. All rights reserved.

You can obtain more information or discuss any of the articles in this newsletter on the message board at:


- Announcing Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter Plus Edition!
- Personal Ancestral File Companion 5.1
- Reunion Family Tree Version 8 for Macintosh
- London 1901 Census on CD-ROM
- More on Using the 1880 U.S. Census Indexes
- Family History Radio
- Molecular Genealogy Draws Record Crowd in Calgary
- Jack the Ripper Identified by DNA?
- News and Entertainment Gateway to the World of Family History
- Canadian Genealogy Centre Seeks Your Input
- Seeking Descendants of Those Buried in New Jersey Cemetery
- America's Best Cemeteries
- Upcoming Events

- Announcing Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter Plus Edition!

NOTE: This article was updated Sept. 15, 2003 with new information.

Last week I asked if the newsletter subscribers would be willing to pay for a subscription. The exact question was, "What is the MAXIMUM amount that you would pay for a subscription to Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter?" More than 1,700 newsletter readers took the time to answer that question in an online poll, far more than I ever expected. I want to thank each of you for taking the time to do that; your answers had a big impact in the decision process.

I was also gratified that 79% of those who participated in the online poll said that they would be willing to pay for the newsletter. Again, that was far more than I ever expected. In addition, many comments were posted on the message board for this newsletter. Based upon those numbers and comments plus my consultation with several people whose judgments I value, I now have a plan for the future of this newsletter.

I wish I could send you a sound clip of a drum roll to be played here.

Starting next week, there will be two versions of this newsletter: a free Standard Edition and a Plus Edition for those who wish to contribute financial support. The two will be loosely similar but with several distinct differences:

Standard Edition

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter – Standard Edition will be FREE just like all the past newsletters. I am committed to providing a free weekly newsletter for as long as there is interest. The articles in this newsletter will be available to everyone. In fact, you will be encouraged to copy or forward articles from the Standard Edition to others. Even better, you can always suggest to others that they can read the Standard Edition themselves at

The Standard Edition will contain advertising. Each issue may contain ads for one or more companies. These may be banner ads or text ads or a combination of both. This is a minor change from past newsletters, which only had a brief mention of a corporate sponsor. Interested potential advertisers should contact me at for advertising rates.

The Standard Edition will not contain as many articles as the Plus Edition. See the explanation below under "Plus Edition."

The Standard Edition will be available approximately 24 hours after the Plus Edition. Anyone who wants to be among the first to receive the latest news is advised to subscribe to the Plus Edition.

The Standard Edition will only be available online at It will not be sent by e-mail; you will need to go to the Web site to read it. The reason for making it available only on the Web is to reduce bulk e-mail expenses, which are based on the number of bytes sent.

Not withstanding the previous statement, initially I will send a brief e-mail every week to subscribers announcing that a new Standard Edition is available online and inviting each person to go to the Web site to view it. This short e-mail will be cheaper for me to send than the longer e-mails that contain the full newsletter text. However, in the future I may change the practice of sending these notification e-mails.

Articles from the Standard Edition will continue to be available for discussion on the newsletter’s message board at


Plus Edition

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter – Plus Edition will be available only as a paid subscription for a modest fee, described below. In exchange for your support, you receive exclusive privileges described below.

No ads. The Plus Edition will not contain any advertising.

Extra articles. That's right! The Plus Editions will have all the articles of the Standard Edition plus additional articles that do not appear elsewhere. I will remove the commercial messages from the Plus Edition and provide extra content in their place.

Plus Edition subscribers will read about ways to save money in conjunction with their genealogy interests. I will occasionally write an article in the Plus Edition (only) about how to obtain a genealogy program at a bargain price, how to save money on airfares to a major genealogy conference or similar topics. Those who pay for Plus Edition subscriptions will learn how to save that amount of money and more.

Earlier delivery. The Plus Edition will be available about 24 hours earlier than the Standard Edition. Be the first to read the news. There are several reasons for this. One is that when I mention Web sites in the newsletter, those sites sometimes become swamped when readers of the newsletter start looking at them. In the past, some sites have been knocked offline when thousands of newsletter readers started looking at them! Their Web servers could not handle the load. Plus Edition readers will receive a head start before the Web servers become swamped. A second reason is that those who pay for the news should receive it first. Anyone who wants to be among the first to receive the latest news is advised to subscribe to the Plus Edition.

The Plus Edition will be delivered directly to your e-mail address, unlike the Standard Edition that will only be available on the Web. Those who pay for a subscription deserve the best possible delivery service, directly to their e-mail address.

Plus Edition subscribers will occasionally receive brief "Special Editions" with late-breaking news of importance. Those who subsidize the newsletter’s operation will always be the first to receive priority information. Standard Edition readers will not receive that information until the next regularly scheduled newsletter.

Plus Edition subscribers will receive 12 editions every three months, 48 editions per year, or more. However, there are no guarantees for those who read the free Standard Edition.

I expect to offer even more special services in the future to Plus Edition subscribers. For instance, a message board section for Plus Edition subscribers is planned. Also on the drawing board is a project to supply a ZIP-compressed archive of all the Plus Edition newsletters, available for download to your computer. This way, over time, you can have a complete, searchable archive of all Plus Edition information, right at your fingertips with no saving or cutting and pasting or trying to dig old issues out of your emails. It makes looking up information from previous issues much faster and easier!

Plus Edition subscribers can also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that they have contributed to the ongoing success of this newsletter for all genealogists.

Two price plans are offered for your Plus Edition subscription:

    • A three-month subscription costs just $5.95 (U.S. funds) – about 46¢ per issue
    • A twelve-month subscription costs just $19.95 (U.S. funds) – about 38¢ per issue

The three-month subscription is offered as a low-risk introduction for about six dollars. My guess is that most people are willing to "take a chance" for only six bucks. When they do so, I’m betting that most will like what they receive and will continue to subscribe to the Plus Edition.

Anyone who chooses a twelve-month subscription saves some money. You can start with the three-month plan now and then upgrade later if you wish. There is no requirement to upgrade, however. You may automatically renew a three-month subscription as long as you want to. You can also easily cancel your subscription at any time.

All subscriptions are paid by credit card using a safe and secure online shopping cart system. You can pay with VISA, MasterCard, or American Express cards. The secure servers keep your credit card number private. Your personal information is encrypted before it is sent from your computer to the secure Web servers. Credit card numbers are never shown to me or to anyone else.

Newsletter readers outside the U.S. will appreciate the convenience of using a credit card; there is no need to pay a fee to convert your local currency into U.S. dollars. The credit card companies will automatically make the currency conversion for you at little or no cost.

Unlike the Standard Edition, the Plus Edition is supported directly by its readers --- sort of like the Public Broadcasting model. Instead of advertising, you get extra content in a streamlined, ad-free newsletter PLUS all the other benefits mentioned earlier.

The low cost is intentional: I want as many people as possible to receive the extra content and other benefits of the Plus Editions. I also believe that $5.95 for three months is a small enough amount that very few readers will find it burdensome. In fact, the price is well below the prices suggested by last week’s newsletter readers’ poll. I hope you'll agree that the ad-free tips and other information in each issue of the Plus Edition are worth more than 38¢ per issue!

I am excited about this new two-tier newsletter and hope that you will consider a subscription to the Plus Edition. You can check it out for only three dollars.

Of course, "word of mouse" advertising becomes more important than ever. This newsletter has no budget for publicity. Because the subscription price is so low, no money will be spent for a future PR budget. I rely upon newsletter readers to do the advertising for me. Please tell your friends.

To learn more about the new Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter - Plus Edition or to sign up today, go to:

To discuss this story further, please visit the newsletter message board at and click on "Message Board."

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- Personal Ancestral File Companion 5.1

Personal Ancestral File for Windows, usually referred to as "PAF," is one of the most popular Windows genealogy programs in the world. There are good reasons for the program’s popularity: it is easy to use, stores most information that genealogists want to record, and can easily import and export data to and from other programs. Of course, the biggest reason for PAF’s popularity is its price: it is free. You can download this Windows program directly from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Web site at:

Millions of people have started with this program, and I suspect that a high percentage never switched to anything else. After all, the program does have many of the features found in the commercial programs, although not all of them. Most notably, PAF doesn’t have all the on-screen or printed reports that many people want. For some time the producers of the program have also offered "Personal Ancestral File Companion," an low-cost add-on program that adds extra functionality.

A new version of the Companion program has just been released, and I had a chance to use it this week. I can report that the Companion program is still is a great addition; the programmers didn’t mess with success. By the way, if you own the earlier version 5.0, you can download a free update and enjoy all the features of the latest version of Personal Ancestral File Companion. Go to for details.

Like the earlier versions, Personal Ancestral File Companion version 5.1 adds high quality printed charts. However, the one item that caught my eye in this new release is the capability to produce most charts and reports in Adobe Acrobat’s PDF format. You can now create PDF files without the need to purchase expensive software from Adobe or another company.

PAF Companion adds the following printed reports that are not available in Personal Ancestral File (or else improves upon PAF’s existing reports):

  • Family Group Record - Printed version of family group view in LDS format.
  • Standard Family Group - A variable format that will print all user-defined events.
  • Kinship - Print all relatives of an individual with their relationship(s).
  • Hourglass Chart - A box chart that prints both ancestors and descendants for an individual, displayed in a format that resembles an hourglass with ancestors displayed above the focus individual and descendants below.
  • Pedigree Chart - Traditional LDS pedigree chart of an individual's ancestors.
  • Ancestor Chart - A box chart of an individual's ancestors.
  • Bow Tie Chart - A box chart showing an individual's paternal line (ancestors) to the left and the maternal line to the right.
  • Fan Chart - A unique "fan" presentation of an individual's ancestors. You can also print a full circle or quarter-circle chart.
  • Descendant Chart - A box chart of an individual's descendants.
  • Outline Descendant - An outline report of an individual's descendants, indented by generation. This is a useful summary report because only one line per person is printed.
  • Ahnentafel - An individual's ancestors prepared in a book format together with an index. Different from the other charts and reports, the Ahnentafel is output directly to your word processor for further editing and printing.
  • Register Report - An individual's descendants prepared in a book format together with an index. Like the Ahnentafel, the Register report is output directly to your word processor for further editing and printing.

New features available for the first time in version 5.1 include:

  • Publish - All charts and reports, with the exception of the Ahnentafel and Register reports, can be saved in PDF format. This makes it easy to share reports and charts with others, in e-mail or on CD-ROM.
  • Print Preview - All charts and reports, with the exception of the Ahnentafel and Register reports, can be previewed in PDF format before printing.
  • Show LDS Events – This option allows you to select whether or not you wish to show LDS-specific events in the printed reports without changing your PAF files in any way.
  • Ibid for Repeating Sources – This incremental improvement allows for the use of "Ibid" instead of repeating the same source citation over and over.

I found that Personal Ancestral File Companion version 5.1 is as easy to use as the previous versions. In fact, the user interface looks identical to the earlier version. The experienced user will note some new items on the menus, however. When running the program, I noticed that the on-screen display said "Version 5.1.3" although the label on the CD jewel case simply said "5.1." I suspect the producers will always supply the latest version without changing the printed jewel case label.

I had a lot of fun with the new "print to PDF" capability and created all sorts of charts, which I can easily e-mail to relatives. The printed charts all look great on my inexpensive inkjet printer. Personal Ancestral File Companion version 5.1 will print to any Windows-compatible print device, including plotters. You can print to a file on diskette and take that file to a commercial printing service if you wish. There are many services that will print the file for you on their expensive color laser printers or plotters. You could even have a pedigree chart made into a vinyl sign for display at the next family reunion! Check your local sign shop for prices. (I said it is possible but didn’t say that it is cheap.)

Personal Ancestral File Companion does not have a printed manual, nor does it need one. Most of the options and selections are self-explanatory. However, just in case you do find something that is less intuitive, the online Help feature will illustrate the proper operation. I looked at the online Help for several topics, and it seemed to display information clearly in all instances.

While not new in version 5.1, my favorite feature of Personal Ancestral File Companion is the wall charts. This program makes excellent charts that you can print out locally in color or black-and-white, then tape the printouts together and take them to a family reunion or other gathering.

Personal Ancestral File Companion 5.1 requires Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000, a Pentium processor (or faster), at least 16 megabytes of RAM memory (but with 32 megabytes recommended), at least 10 megabytes of available hard-disk space, and a VGA monitor with a 256-color-capable video card or better. Remember that Personal Ancestral File Companion is an add-on program; it is used in conjunction with Personal Ancestral File version 3.0 or later.

The LDS Church has always produced high-quality genealogy software at a low price. Personal Ancestral File Companion version 5.1 is no exception; it sells for $13.50. That’s right, thirteen and a half bucks. In my opinion, it is worth a lot more.

Now, if the low price isn’t enticing enough, you can download a free evaluation copy of the program from The free evaluation version will print enough of the various reports to let users evaluate the features of the program. It may limit the number of generations in a report or other functions of the program. Once you have some "hands on" time with the evaluation copy, you will know whether or not you want to pay $13.50 for the regular version.

To order Personal Ancestral File Companion version 5.1.3 online via a safe and secure online ordering system, go to the same Web site mentioned earlier:

To discuss this story further, please visit the newsletter message board at and click on "Message Board."

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- Reunion Family Tree Version 8 for Macintosh

Reunion by Leister Productions is the leading genealogy program for the Macintosh. A new version with new functionality has been released. Version 8 now operates on the new Macintosh OS X as well as on OS 8.5 through 9.2. Actually, there are two different versions of the same program on the CD-ROM: one is a native OS X application that supports the Aqua interface while the other version is for the earlier operating systems and interfaces.

Other enhancements to Reunion version 8 include the following features:

New Charting Features - Chart editing has been completely revamped in Reunion 8. Objects in charts can be selected, aligned, grouped, layered, nudged, etc. There are new chart styles, a new tool palette, pictures in boxes, live preview, and instant updating from the family card.

More columns in lists - Indexes and other lists can show the contents of up to eight fields simultaneously.

Dynamic and flexible numbering systems - In addition to internally generated ID numbers and user-defined ID numbers, Reunion will generate ahnentafel, register, legal, and relative numbers automatically. You can display any of these numbers on the family card and include them in reports and charts.

Register reports can include a parenthetical list of direct ancestors after each entry, such as:

2101. John LastName (Barry3, Susan MaidenName2, George1). John was born etc.....

LDS support. Reunion 8 has a slew of new features for the recording, editing, importing, and exporting of information unique to the LDS faith.

And a lot more new features.

You can view the full list of new features at:

You can read more about Reunion version 8 for Macintosh at Leister Productions’ Web site:

To discuss this story further, please visit the newsletter message board at and click on "Message Board."

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- London 1901 Census on CD-ROM

If anyone ever gives awards for the heaviest box of CD-ROM disks in a genealogy product, S&N British Data Archive Ltd. will win the prize. I wrote about the company’s release of the Lancashire 1891 Census records in the June 17, 2002 edition of this newsletter. (You can read that review at I was impressed with the size of that set of disks: 30 CD-ROM disks. However, this week I opened a new and heavier box from S&N: the London 1901 Census. This newly released set of disks fills 45 (yes, count them… 45!) CDs.

Macintosh users will note that these CDs work on Macintosh systems as well as on Windows. I even tried them on one of my Linux systems, and the 1901 Census CDs appeared to work perfectly there, too.

NOTE: If you do use these disks on Linux, remember that S&N British Data Archive Ltd. doesn’t support this. Please don’t contact S&N to ask questions about Linux. And, whatever you do, please don’t tell them, "Well, Dick Eastman said it would work!" OK?

Once you start looking at the data on these disks, you quickly realize why there are so many of them. This set contains 27 gigabytes of data, including 200,000 page images of original census records as recorded by the enumerators, along with area indexes. That is the equivalent of approximately 19,000 diskettes! I would have to put an addition onto the house to store all of the 200,000 printed census pages that have been scanned and compressed into a 5 ½-inch by 5 ½-inch by 3 ¼-inch box that now easily sits on top of my PC.

Like most of the CD-ROM disks from the same company, the London 1901 Census disks are created with Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat Reader is included on Disk 1, with simple installation instructions in the enclosed user’s manual. This little 8-page booklet provides an orientation to the CD set as well as helpful hints for effective use of the Acrobat Reader. The user’s manual recommends starting Acrobat first, then inserting a disk into your CD drive.

Once you have the Acrobat Reader running, you need to decide where you want to start your search for relatives; you need to know the street or area of their residence. Each CD covers a Registration District, divided into subdistricts. All districts and subdistricts are linked to indexes of their area (place, parish, or township) and street, included on each disk for the district(s) it covers. In addition, disk 45 includes a master index of all districts, as well as an alphabetized index of streets in high-population areas which the Public Records Office produced originally for microfilm viewers.

The images on these CD-ROM disks were produced from microfilms of original records. In fact, the records on the CDs are numbered in the same manner as the microfilms. The area and street indexes refer the user to "film numbers" and those numbers are preserved on the CD-ROM disks.

The areas covered include Paddington, Kensington, Fulham, Chelsea, St George Hanover Square, Westminster, Marylebone, Hampstead, Pancras, Islington, Hackney, St Giles, Strand, Holborn, London City, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, St George in the East, Stepney, Mile End Old Town, Poplar, St Saviour, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Camberwell, Greenwich, Lewisham, and Woolwich.

These CDs do not include an index of person names. If you know the district, subdistrict, or street, locating the pages is fairly easy. On the other hand, you may not always know where your ancestors lived, and looking through the 200,000 pages of handwritten records on the CDs isn’t practical. To narrow your search, you may want to use the index for the 1901 census that the Public Record Office has made available on a Web site at You could use the online index to find names and subdistricts, and then use the CDs to view the images. However, you also need to know that the Public Record Office’s index has some problems. You can read more about the problems at and at

S&N British Data Archive Ltd. has started a Name Indexing Project with the intent of creating a higher-quality index than the PRO online version. The company urges everyone researching this area to use an Excel spreadsheet and WordPad document (both included on Disk 45) to index the subdistricts each user is interested in. The spreadsheets then should be sent to the company, preferably by e-mail. In order to avoid duplication of effort, a Web page has been created of "who is indexing which subdistricts." Full details are in the user’s manual.

The quality of the images on the CD-ROM version appears to be much better than the images on the Public Record Office’s Web site. The CD version’s images have been digitally enhanced and filtered to make the release as compact and clear as possible. Almost all the images that I looked at were crystal clear, much better than those I have seen on the Public Record Office’s site. S&N has two sample pages available online that you can see for yourself. Look at: and at You must have the free Adobe Acrobat program installed to view those pages. Note how you can zoom in and out easily and move the images around. You can do the same with the CD-ROM version as you are using the same software (Acrobat) to view those images as well. I doubt if S&N "hand picked" their best pages for use on the Web; most of the pages on CD-ROM that I saw were of the same quality as the two samples shown on S&N’s Web site.

British copyright laws are a bit different from American laws. Census records in the U.K. are not public domain, and the republishing of census information is regulated. S&N British Data Archive Ltd. sells these CD-ROM disks under license from the Public Record Office. The CDs include a license for personal research, private study, or education. Images may not be copied and republished elsewhere. Use in a library requires a separate license, available from S&N.

The London 1901 Census CD-ROM set sells for £59.95 ($93.75 in U.S. funds) plus shipping. If you plan to spend quite a bit of time with 1901 London census records, £59.95 will be cheaper than using the online version. The CD-ROM version is also faster and easier to use and has better images than the online version.

All in all, the London 1901 Census on CD-ROM is an excellent genealogy resource. It contains clear images of valuable original records used by genealogists, historians, and social scientists. 200,000 pages have been scanned and recorded onto CD-ROM disks. This set is a bargain at only £1.33 ($2.08 U.S.) per disk.

Keep in mind that anyone outside of the U.K. can order these disks online by using a credit card; there is no need to convert local currency into pounds. For more information about the London 1901 Census Records on CD-ROM, look at S&N British Data Archive Ltd.’s online catalog at Details about this set of 45 CD-ROM disks can be found at

To discuss this story further, please visit the newsletter message board at and click on "Message Board."

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- More on Using the 1880 U.S. Census Indexes

Last week I published a message written by Dave Birley that described his technique of using the 1880 U.S. and 1881 Canadian and British Census Indexes that are now available on the Web. This week Michael E. Pollock wrote about his method of using the 1880 U.S. Census Indexes on CD-ROM, although his method should work on the other indexes as well.

Michael writes:


As you might appreciate from our prior exchanges, I have my own preferred method of working with records, and also have been known to make a point of discovering ways to get software programs which would otherwise not be "compatible" with my "style" of working to work with that style. I have done so with the 1880 Census CD set produced by the LDS.

I do not know how many others may wish to make use of this "technique" or even be aware of the same, and I have yet to attempt to use it on the website to be certain it will work there as well as on the CD set, but here it is.

Once you have the household information displayed in the lower window, you can "select" any block of text in the same by right-clicking the mouse and dragging the cursor over the text you wish to select, then copying the same to the clipboard by choosing Shift/Delete. The text block can then be pasted into any word processing or desktop publishing program and saved to a file on either the hard drive or a disk. I prefer this to printing from the program for a variety of reasons, one being that you are not limited to just that one household to a sheet of paper, and you do not have to retype the data to include it in either a report to a client or a database for further research (the latter works especially well for anyone who works with a laptop). One can then either print out the data either directly from the actual census form, once located, or with the additional data added to what was saved to file.

Additionally, when one has an actual individual report loaded, if one goes not to the hotkey for Neighbors but to the menu bar and choose Neighbors, you are provided a window in which you can enter a search term. If you type a specific surname, it will report all instances of that name in that specific state, arranged first alphabetically by county, then numerically by household (unfortunately, if the surname is also used as a given name, it will also report all instances of that). This is very helpful when one is dealing with a common surname or do not have a clear idea of the age of the individual, not to overlook that the individual might be identified by initials rather than a full name, by a nickname, or even with the name misspelled in a way you may not be able to anticipate, but are fairly certain of the location, because the search report generated from the index CD does not identify the county of residence, just the state.

Michael E. Pollock

Thanks for the information, Michael. This may start a new "Hints and Kinks" section of this newsletter. Any more "how to" suggestions from other newsletter readers?

To discuss this story further, please visit the newsletter message board at and click on "Message Board."

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- Family History Radio

Several genealogy-oriented radio programs have appeared and disappeared in recent years. They are great to listen to and can provide a wealth of information. However, as a "specialty interest," these programs normally are aired on low-powered talk radio stations that have limited coverage. A small coverage area usually means a small number of listeners.

Thanks to the Internet, radio programs no longer need to be limited to a small geographic area. Indeed, "Internet radio stations" attract listeners from all over the world. Thousands of individuals and corporations have created Internet radio stations; go to your favorite search engine and look for "Internet radio station" to see what I mean. You’ll find more of them listed than you could ever listen to.

Genealogists will be pleased to learn about the "Karen Clifford Show" on Karen is the host of a bimonthly free show over the Internet. Along with co-host Steve Jensen, Karen provides answers to genealogy questions submitted by listeners.

I’ve met Karen Clifford a number of times and must say that she is an excellent person to host a radio show. Not only does she have a good speaking voice, but Karen also is a professional genealogist with over 30 years experience in family history research. She is a well-known genealogy author, speaker, and researcher. She also is President of Genealogy Research Associates, Inc.

I have listened to two of Karen Clifford’s programs so far and have enjoyed them both. The show functions as a "listener call-in" program in which Karen fields questions from telephone callers. To accommodate callers in different time zones, each question is prerecorded. The programs I heard covered a number of topics. These two programs would be of interest primarily to Americans as most questions revolved around U.S. records, with a few questions about the European records of people who later emigrated to the U.S. However, even Americans living overseas can easily listen to this online "radio station."

To listen to Karen’s show on Family History Radio, all you need is a computer with speakers or headphones and an Internet connection. That connection doesn’t have to be broadband; a dial-up modem will work just fine. Past shows have been recorded and are available online. You can listen to them at any time. Karen also offers online training courses for a fee as part of an online "Genealogy School." Those courses are available on the same Web site. For further details or to listen to these genealogy radio programs, go to and click on the links at the top of the page.

To discuss this story further, please visit the newsletter message board at and click on "Message Board."

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- News and Entertainment Gateway to the World of Family History

A new Web site has appeared that bills itself as a "news and entertainment gateway to the world of family history." The Web site provides products that appear to focus on both entertainment and instruction. The company aims to teach you about family history in an enjoyable manner so that you can then search genealogy records that are available elsewhere.

Here is the announcement from Backtrack Studios:

MELBOURNE, Australia, Oct. 24 -- Backtrack Studios ( today launched its three-tier program aimed at the 50 million+ family historians and genealogists in major English speaking countries.

Backtrack Studios is a dedicated family history channel on the web -- dubbed as the news and entertainment gateway to the world of family history -- providing online multimedia news/entertainment/software specifically for family historians.

Backtrack is also the primary fundraiser for National Heritage Foundation (NHF) and its applied ancestry programs for at-risk youth and their families. NHF is pioneering the development of applied ancestry, which is the systematic use of family history as a mentoring system to help youth meet their challenges and solve problems. (Find out more about applied ancestry at

The three tiers of the Backtrack program include:

Tier one: Around the World (ATW), a news/current affairs subscriber service with journalists travelling the world to interview and record feature stories on people and ideas that are shaping the world of family history. Feature audio and print stories are available as Internet downloads, or subscribers can hear them on CD or cassette, delivered to their home or business.

ATW is like having your own personal family history society with top presenters from around the world at every meeting.

Tier two: Backtrack's senior creative adviser, Academy Award winner Kieth Merrill says, "the greatest movies you'll ever see will be the ones you make about your family, including your ancestors. In this era the difference between the equipment and techniques that 'Hollywood' uses and what is available to you on your home computer is minimal; these days it's mostly about technique."

Backtrack has created iHero -- a software and online tutorial program that teaches these 'Hollywood' techniques to family historians to make family history more compelling for young audiences. Even those who think they are computer novices can learn how to 'entertain' their family using personal computers, video cameras, scanners and every piece of readily available technology.

Tier three: Backtrack is committed to making a difference for young people, hence the interactive link between and Users can go back and forth between the two sites with one click to keep up with news and entertainment for their hobby or profession and the development of applied ancestry as a significant new social science resource.

"Backtrack has kept its pricing very low so everyone can afford to subscribe, yet still allows support for NHF's applied ancestry projects with at-risk youth and their families," said Peter Rancie, Backtrack founder and CEO.

"We are also pleased that we have been able to time the release of Backtrack Studios with USA's family history month, since these programs offer significant innovation and ease of access for millions of family historians in the USA and many other countries," he said.

To celebrate family history month, the Around The World sound and print feature on Ellis Island, New York (part one of a two part series) is available immediately -- free -- to all new registrants and subscribers at

This new Web site sells a variety of audiotapes and CDs, including:

"Around the World" – a series of documentary and current affairs style stories that are presented on audio, featuring interviews and reports on the major events and people that shape or reshape the world of family history combined with the associated human-interest stories. - $9.90 each

"The A-Z of Family History" is for every family historian who wants an easy way to communicate the essence of family history to others; it is excellent for beginners as an easy to use primer; it is suitable for schools as a curriculum resource for family history units. This product is available as audio and print downloads. - $39.95

"iHero (The Modern Family Hero)" is a Multimedia CD with lessons by download teaches you how to produce great family history movies. - $49.95

The above prices are in U.S. dollars and do not include shipping and handling charges. For more information, go to:

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- Molecular Genealogy Draws Record Crowd in Calgary

DNA studies continue to dominate the "what’s new in genealogy" news. The following is a report from Gordon Hulbert, Chairman of the Family Roots 2002 conference:

On the evening of Friday, October 25th, over four hundred avid genealogists braved a freezing drizzle and falling temperatures to attend a presentation by Dr.Tod Schulthess, general manager of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Project. This was the kickoff event for FamilyRoots 2002, a presentation of the Alberta Family Histories Society in cooperation with the Calgary Family History Center. At the conclusion of the evening, Dr. Schulthess told organizers this was by far the largest group to have heard the foundation's presentation to date.

At the full conference the following day, genealogists could select from six lecture tracks covering a wide range of topics. Speakers were drawn from all over Western Canada, several of whom had made presentations at the last two NGS National Conferences in Portland and Milwaukee. The display hall was divided into three distinct areas, one for vendors, a second for genealogical groups and local repository representatives, and a third for demonstrations. This latter area featured continuous demonstrations of genealogical software by the local user groups. Dr. Schulthess, whose group was adding to the 350 DNA samples collected the previous evening, remarked that FamilyRoots 2002 was one of the best-organized conferences he had attended.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the media for their enthusiastic support, the vendors for the quality of their displays, the many volunteers who gave so freely of their time, and most of all to the hundreds of genealogists, many of whom had traveled a considerable distance to attend, and all of whom put up with the icy roads and miserable weather to make this one of our most successful conferences.

Gordon Hulbert
Chairman, Family Roots 2002

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- Jack the Ripper Identified by DNA?

DNA stories seem to pop up everywhere. Not only can DNA solve genealogy mysteries, but DNA evidence also has long been used in criminal cases by professionals and amateurs alike. Now crime novelist Patricia Cornwell thinks she may have uncovered Jack the Ripper's DNA. She says that the DNA matches a British artist who liked to paint morbid scenes of violence against women.

Writing in "Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed," published in the November issue of Vanity Fair, Cornwell claims that the Ripper's DNA could be a match with the DNA of Walter Sickert, an artist who used prostitutes as models and who painted scenes similar to the murders committed by the Ripper, a serial killer who terrorized London in the 1880s.

Cornwell says she discovered that a letter supposedly written by Jack the Ripper on Nov. 22, 1888, had the same watermark stationary used by Walter and Ellen Sickert after their marriage three years earlier. Sickert, who died in 1942, was cremated, and no DNA of his exists except on some letters and envelopes whose stamps he had licked. These were compared with the DNA of the Ripper from taunting letters he sent to authorities.

Cornwell said that of 55 samples tested, 2 had a sequence of numbers that came from only one person: one sequence belonged to the American artist James Whistler, with whom the German-born Sickert studied, and the other to the person who left DNA on a stamp of a Ripper letter sent to Dr. Thomas Openshaw, the curator of the London Hospital Museum.

The Whistler sequence had nothing in common with any Ripper letter or any non-Whistler item tested. But the other sequence is found in five samples: the front stamp of the Openshaw envelope; an Ellen Sickert envelope (which could have been handled by her husband); the envelope from a Walter Sickert letter; a stamp from a Walter Sickert envelope; and a Ripper envelope with a stain that tests positive for blood.

Cornwell said that some of Sickert's paintings bear a chilling resemblance to photographs of Jack the Ripper's victims and that some of the Ripper's letters contained phrases used by Whistler that were often mocked by his student, Sickert.

You can read an interesting and somewhat contrary opinion at,3604,615413,00.html.

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- Canadian Genealogy Centre Seeks Your Input

The Canadian Genealogy Centre is holding a symposium as these words are being written. While it is too late to attend the symposium, you still have an opportunity to express your opinions.

The following was written by Gordon A. Watts, Co-Chair of the Canada Census Committee.

Greetings All.

In conjunction with the first symposium of the Canadian Genealogy Centre to be held this weekend (1, 2 and 3 November 2002) in Gatineau, Quebec, a new website has been set up.

Besides the 100 people from across Canada that will be attending the symposium, the Canadian Genealogy Centre seeks to widen participation in discussions relating to the new Centre. As such, they have posted on the CGC website an online survey designed to gather input from members of the genealogy and family history community of interests, on the issues that will be discussed during the sessions at the symposium.

The website to access this survey is

You are asked to view a slide presentation prior to filling out the survey. The slide presentation is intended to inform you some of what is envisioned for the CGC. The slide show and the survey are available in both official languages.

While it is obviously short notice, organizers of the symposium would like to have preliminary results of the survey to inform those attending the symposium. Your participation by completing the survey will assist in determining the direction that the Canadian Genealogy Centre will take.

Happy Hunting

Gordon A. Watts
Co-Chair, Canada Census Committee
Port Coquitlam, BC

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- Seeking Descendants of Those Buried in New Jersey Cemetery

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority is seeking the descendants of those buried in a potters’ field cemetery in Hudson County. The turnpike needs the land to build an interchange that will serve the Secaucus Transfer train station near Laurel Hill. The cemetery on those grounds was used by Hudson County's former poorhouse, mental hospital, and penitentiary. More than 3,500 bodies may be in the ground, located behind a prison annex and under an elevated section of highway.

The authority will spend $3.89 million to locate and remove the remains, transport them to a new location, and reinter them. A memorial will also be placed at the new site. State Superior Court Judge Thomas Oliveri in Hudson County is overseeing the move.

Several weeks ago, Oliveri ordered the turnpike to run legal ads searching for relatives of the deceased. Oliveri said in September that he wants to hear from relatives of the deceased. So far, only six have come forward, and only one has been confirmed as having a relative in the cemetery.

A complete list of those buried is available on the turnpike’s Web site at If you have ancestry in or around Hudson County, you should check this list for any possible relatives.

You will need Adobe’s free Acrobat viewer installed in order to read this list. If you do not have the viewer installed, first go to and download the free viewer there.

My thanks to Homer Thiel for notifying me of this story.

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- America's Best Cemeteries

Considering the fact that in some cemeteries a 20-foot-by-20-foot private plot of land can cost as much as $1 million, death can be a rather expensive proposition. Writing in Forbes Magazine, Betsy Schiffman describes the pricing of America’s upscale cemeteries. She writes, "Unlike residential real estate, where properties are listed with very specific numbers (even if they are negotiable), prices in cemeteries are hardly standardized in terms of size and product. Cemetery pricing seems to be largely based upon the size of the cemetery and the amount of land available, how secluded or private the grave is, the maintenance of the surrounding grounds, and how many celebrities and high-profilers are buried there."

You can read the entire article at

My thanks to Larry Kerr for telling me about this article.

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- Upcoming Events

The Upcoming Events section of this newsletter is published once per month, usually in the first newsletter of each month. Each event will be listed very briefly: date(s), location and brief details, followed by either an e-mail address or a Web page that you can use to find more information. Since detailed information is available via e-mail or the Web, I will not list the details in this newsletter. If you do contact any of these organizations, please tell them where you heard about the event.

Here are the listings, arranged by date. An asterisk indicates a new listing that has been added since the last time this list was published:

Nov. 5, 2002 – Knoxville, TN: The East Tennessee Historical Society is hosting a series of free genealogy classes designed for beginners with an interest in learning more about how to get started in one of the nation’s most popular hobbies.

Nov. 9, 2002 – Dublin, OH: The National Genealogical Society, along with local host, the Ohio Genealogical Society, will be holding a regional conference. Featured speakers include Sheila Benedict, CCRS, and Cyndi Howells.

Nov. 9, 2002 - Charlottesville, VA: The Virginia Genealogical Society, in partnership with the Central Virginia Genealogical Association, will hold its annual Fall Conference.

Nov. 9, 2002 - Livonia, MI: The 9th Annual Seminar of the Western Wayne County Genealogical Society. The main presentation will be "Finding Treasures in British Isles Research," presented by Paul Milner.

Nov. 9, 2002 - Frankfort, KY: the Kentucky Genealogical Society program will be "Adair County, Kentucky: Its History and People" by Michael Watson.

Nov. 10, 2002 – Costa Mesa, CA: The Jewish Genealogy Society of Orange County’s meeting will feature Linda Shulein of The JGSOC. She will speak about the 2002 Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies annual convention.

Nov. 15 & 16, 2002 - St. Petersburg, FL: The Florida State Genealogical Society (FSGS) will hold its 26th annual conference. The main speaker will be Linda Woodward Geiger, and the banquet speaker will be Elizabeth Neily.

Nov. 16, 2002 – Richmond, VA: The Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia's Fall Conference, "Directions For Success - Search and Research" with 4 lectures by Patricia Law Hatcher, CG, FASG.

Nov. 22, 2002 – Sacramento, CA: The Sacramento German Genealogy Society (SGGS) offers "Marriage in Germany: A look at practices from 1500 to 1900, including such aspects as age, inheritance, illegitimacy, wedding ceremonies, and the roles of feudal lords and the church", by Roger P Minert, A. G., Ph.D.

Dec. 7, 2002 – Atlanta, GA: The Georgia Genealogical Society meeting will feature speaker Carrie Adamson.

Dec. 8, 2002 – Costa Mesa, CA: The Jewish Genealogy Society of Orange County’s meeting will feature their large reference and research library will be available for browsing.

Jan. 18, 2003 - Ft. Myers, FL: The Lee County Genealogical Society will sponsor an Ancestor Tracking Seminar with featured speaker Ann Mohr Osisek, popular genealogy lecturer.

Feb. 21 & 22, 2002 – Mesa, AZ: The Czech/Slovak Genealogical Society and CSGI (International) will host a winter symposium on research in Czech / Slovak and related topics in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Mar. 1, 2003 - Lake Havasu City, AZ: The Lake Havasu Genealogical Society, Inc will hold its Annual Seminar with featured speaker Jean White.

Mar. 1, 2003 – Atlanta, GA: Sherry Irvine, CGRS, will present four lectures for the Georgia Genealogical Society.

Mar. 2 & 3, 2003 – Phoenix, AZ: The Annual Arizona Convocation sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

Mar. 22, 2003 - Rohnert Park, CA: Sharon DeBartolo Carmack will be all-day speaker for the Sonoma County Genealogical Society’s meeting.

Mar. 22, 2003 – AZ: The AzGAB Annual Workshop. Location and time to be determined.

Apr. 5, 2003 – Phoenix, AZ: The Annual Book Festival sponsored by the Arizona Humanities Council and the Arizona State Library. Time and details will be forthcoming.

Apr. 5, 2002 – Carmichael, CA: The Annual Spring Seminar of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society with featured speaker Robert Minert.

April 23 - 27, 2003 – Melbourne, Australia: The 10th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry will be accompanied by an extensive trade exhibition, local and international speakers, an extensive social program, and so much more.

May 3, 2003 – Prescott, AZ: The Northern Arizona Genealogical Society is hosting Jana Broglin as their annual seminar speaker.

May 12 – 26, 2003 - Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland: "Visit Appalachia’s Ancestral Homelands—Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland" – The East Tennessee Historical Society 2003 tour.

*June 27-29, 2003 - Philadelphia, PA: The National Underground Railroad Family Reunion Festival. Descendants of "conductors," "station masters," abolitionists, fugitives, historians, educators and all those associated with the Underground Railroad and the public are encouraged to attend.

Jul. 18-20, 2003 - Shippensburg, PA: "Mother Cumberland - A Harvest of Memories: Reunion 2003" is for anyone with an ancestor of any surname who lived in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania during the 1700s.

Aug. 16, 2003 – Victoria, BC: The Norman Morison Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary. The Hudson’s Bay Co. ship, ‘Norman Morison’s’ last trip to Victoria arrived in 1853. A celebration is planned for descendants of passengers on any of the 3 trips of the ‘Norman Morison.’

*October 1-11, 2003 - Boston to Quebec: Join the California Genealogical Society for a spectacular New England/Canada Fall Foliage cruise with great genealogical lectures presented by George F. Sanborn Jr. FASG FSAC and David Allen Lambert. The 10-day cruise sails round trip from Boston and will make stops in Maine, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and New Brunswick.

If you would like to see your event listed in future newsletters, send an e-mail to: You must include either a Web page that gives details or an e-mail address for the organization or for someone within the organization who is willing to supply the meeting details upon request. Please limit your listings to events where you expect 100 or more people to attend.

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The PR Budget for this newsletter is $0.00. I rely upon "word of mouse" advertising in which you recommend this newsletter to your friends. This newsletter is a private project of mine, and I have a zero budget for a publicity campaign to get more readers.

In each issue, I try to offer you useful, interesting and sometimes amusing information to help you with your genealogy efforts. Can you take a minute to help me out in return? If you think this newsletter is a worthwhile read, please tell your friends. Better yet, forward a copy of the newsletter to them by e-mail and then suggest they get their own subscription at


Are you interested in the articles in this newsletter? Would you like to learn more or ask questions or make comments about these articles? Join this newsletter’s online discussion group. Go to and click on "Message Board."

You can also search past newsletters at the same address:

If you would like to submit news, information or press releases for possible inclusion in future newsletters, send them to The author does reserve the right to accept or reject any articles submitted.


The contents of this newsletter are copyright by Richard W. Eastman with the following exception:

Many of the articles published in these newsletters contain quotes or references from others, especially from other Web sites, software user’s manuals, press releases and other public announcements. Any words in this newsletter attributed to another person or organization remain the copyrighted materials of the original author(s).

You are hereby granted rights, unless otherwise specified, to re-distribute articles from this newsletter to other parties provided:

    1. You do so strictly for non-commercial purposes
    2. You may not republish any articles containing words attributed to another person or organization until you obtain permission from that person or organization. While you do have permission to republish words written by Richard W. Eastman, you do not have automatic authority to republish words written by others, even if their words appear in this newsletter.

Also, please include the following statement with any articles you re-distribute:

The following article is from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Dick Eastman is a frequent presenter at major genealogy conferences. He has published articles in Genealogical Computing and Family Chronicle magazines and for a number of Web sites. He was an advisor to PBS' Ancestry series and appeared as a guest in one of the episodes. He serves on the Advisory Board of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and is a past Director of GENTECH and of the New England Computer Genealogists. Dick is the author of YOUR ROOTS: Total Genealogy Planning On Your Computer published by Ziff-Davis Press. He also manages three Genealogy Forums on CompuServe. He can be reached at: Due to the volume of e-mail received, he is unable to answer every e-mail message received.

If you have questions or comments about the article in this newsletter, go to and then click on "Message Board." Post your message there. You will receive then assistance from Dick Eastman or from a number of other people.


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